Pierre Larrouturou, MEP and rapporteur for the European budget, went on hunger strike on 28/10/2020. He continued his strike for 3 weeks to alert the media and citizens to the need for a financial speculation tax. This tax would aim to generate the hundreds of billion of euros needed for a "climate-health-employment" recovery plan.
Under the initiative of Angela Merkel, the next European summit on December 10 and 11 will endorse new EU climate objectives: to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030. This will cost €600 billion per year according to the European Commission.
"We expect our leaders to have the political courage to go and collect this money from where it is," says an Extinction Rebellion activist. "We demand a transparent, immediate and meaningful taxation on financial speculation, that balances with what we must collectively put in place to preserve the common good and the natural world".
According to the Commission's own calculations, a tax of 0.1% would generate an additional €50 billion every year. Such a sum could finance climate, health care and employment measures without costing citizens a single euro. The European Parliament had already called for the introduction of such a tax in 2011 but the text was never voted in by the Council of the European Union. Now is the moment that everything will be decided, because this vote will decide the European budget for the next seven years.
According to Extinction Rebellion, "Financial lobbies are pressuring our leaders to prevent the adoption of this tax. Financial speculation has no economic use, it produces nothing, it only destabilises the markets. No one should defend it. In our society, everything is taxed. On basic foodstuffs, even the most vulnerable pay a 6% tax. On social housing, 12%. On the purchase of a bicycle, 21%. But on most financial transactions, the tax is currently zero. So is financial speculation more essential to life than food?"
Over the past two weeks, nearly 80 people in France and across Europe have been on hunger strike. Employees, farmers, engineers, accountants, the unemployed, pensioners, from the right or from the left: all are demanding the release of the enormous resources needed for the ecological transition, but also for health and employment. Several activists of Extinction Rebellion Belgium join them and support them. This hunger strike will be punctuated by three meditative meetings in Brussels. Meditation has been chosen by the activists as "a way to refocus on the essential, to open up to compassion and to develop discernment. "
The activists are thus asking governments to focus on the essentials: climate, jobs, and health care. A participant to this action explains: "Faced with the rise of citizen action, European governments will have to explain themselves and say whether they prefer to favour financial speculators or climate, health and jobs. It is urgent to act for more tax justice. We rely on the media to inform citizens. We invite all those who wish to join us in putting pressure on European leaders".